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Jay Z Debuts ‘Picasso Baby’ Performance Art Film

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Nearly a month after the fact, the short film covering Jay Z‘s six-hour performance of his song “Picasso Baby” saw its premiere this past weekend.

Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film premiered on HBO Friday night (Aug. 2). The nearly 11-minute film (about four minutes of which are credits) highlights the performance the rapper did at New York’s Pace Gallery on July 10 and features a number of different artists, musicians, actors and more among its on-screen talent.

Culled from footage from the six-hour rendition of the Magna Carta… Holy Grail track, the film begins with an interview with Hova himself, explaining that artists and musicians are “alike, we’re cousins,” so he was excited to “bring those worlds back together” with Picasso Baby. Over the next few minutes, he raps along to “Picasso Baby” while various guests, celebrity or otherwise, take turns interacting with him in a central space surrounded by a group of fans, who were allowed in to witness the performance.

Some of the more noticeable stars to pop up include Wale — whose album The Gifted preceded Magna Carta‘s reign on the Billboard 200 by two weeks — actors Alan Cumming and Taraji P. Henson, GQ writer Glenn O’Brien, and filmmaker Judd Apatow, who chooses to take a phone call during his turn with the rapper.

One of the more amusing parts of the video occurs when Sandra Gering, a New York art dealer, sits down to be swooned by Jay. Gering’s appearance apparently throws off the rapper, who deviates from the lyrics slightly, smiling: “You messed up my whole flow / But I’mma get it back.”

Picasso Baby also features an array of artists, including Rashid Johnson, Marilyn Minter, Marcel Dzama and George Condo.

The film was shot by Mark Romanek, a veteran filmmaker (One Hour Photo) and music video director who previously worked with Jay Z on “99 Problems” in 2004. Filmed with eight cameras, Picasso Baby was cut down from over 30 hours of footage and was inspired by Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present performance at the Museuem of Modern Art. Fittingly, Abramovic makes an appearance in the video and also gives an interview before the credits.

The YouTube version of the short film has earned more than 1.4 million views since its release there on Aug. 2.

- Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com

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